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What Makes Us Evil?

Delving into the darker side of our race. What makes a human being become evil? What defines the evil?
by Nicholas Bc Shumate
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First lets throw some light on the concepts of good, bad and evil. What we call as good is when one party irrespective of his own agenda chooses to do things that can benefit others or refrains from doing things that can harm others. Opposite of this behavior is bad and the extreme opposite being evil. But why is being good, good for us? Simply because when everyone behaves the same way, we can expect less destructive behavior from our peers and can live in harmony.

But are we supposed to live in harmony? Evolution, the force behind our existence, requires every life form to prove its fitness by maximizing its access to resources and competing with every other life form. The best strategy to maximize ones access would be to share when confronted with an equal contender and dominate others. Since no two life forms are equal (genetic variation) there are partnerships when apt, exploitation when possible and all the corner cases of evil playing out now and then. Just as expected.

The indoctrination of good, bad and evil by means of culture, religion, law, etc. tries to minimize this phenomenon for a sustainable society. But however hard we try evolutionary forces still reign supreme. We are just another milestone in the evolution of life and are meant to be superseded by better beings just like monkeys before us and the countless many before them. This is the way of nature!
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
You might want to check out this post in 'Philosophy for Life' - http://www.talkonomy.com/topic/philosophy-for-life/post/13706432181980
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Jeffrey Harrison White, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
@nicholas this reminds me of the "psychohistorians" from Isaac Asimov's Foundation books.
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
@Jeffrey - YES - one of the best books to help understand the phases/evolution of society.
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
@Nicholas re: history predicting the future, reminds me of Noah's Ark, and the threat of global climate change back in the AD. And makes me wonder whether there are 600,000,000 people (christianity) in the world, who by indoctrination since birth, have been led to believe (brainwashed) in their hearts, that it is possible to flood the earth, and it is possible for mankind to cause it. Cont...
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Its sad that we have started to romanticize and lust for fire power, arms and ammunition at a public level or at least the mass media is forcing these emotions into us.

Many television / cable channels commonly recommended for kids and adolescents now air programs depicting weapons and tools of war as the coolest stuff to posses and experience. How can we allow this to happen to our young (highly impressionable age groups) and complain about violent behavior / gun violence in schools and colleges? Whats this hypocrisy? Aren't weapons just a necessary evil to defend ourselves? Why are we boasting our military technology in mass media? Whats this new found lust for destructive gear and tools?

Is this all part of the 'War Propaganda' to prevent common backlash against ongoing wars by ordinary people (tax payers) funding these wars? This is a surprising trend in the past few decades to which mass media is playing host and common man is falling prey to! Even more surprising is how democratic countries are encouraging and falling prey to this conjuring indoctrination by wicked back stage forces!

Governments don't care! Leaders care less! But its important for the common man to remember that - 'No body ever wins a War! Everyone loses!'. When the mind and heart of the average Joe gets corrupt, families disintegrate, communities falter, nations tremble and empires fall.
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Is this cool? You tell me!
 
 
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
I'm not so sure we are starting to romanticize about weaponry. I've seen some artifacts from earlier ages that would suggest our bloodlust is at least becoming somewhat more civilized. and before violent video games with gunfire and explosions and death, there was cops and robbers, and cowboys and indians and army games played with wooden or plastic guns as kids. (in between picking flowers and playing with kittens)
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
maybe we notice more as adults than as kids, and it seems to us adults that our kids are different than we were.
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
rank and order is a genetic trait. it exists in many animals. Stags butting heads, lions fighting for the leadership of the pride, raccoons have a multi family heirarchy with one leader, etc. purposeful competition could almost be called a way of life. (not necessarily the best way). Some societies rise above this sooner than others.
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 3 years ago Edit
Hierarchy is fine but bragging about guns on prime time television???!!! Isn't all this affecting the average child's mindset? Defence vs Offence (pre-emptive defence) is already a major debate in the political theatre. This is subtle war propaganda in peacetime. How is military technology a civilian issue? How many other developed and democratic countries air such programming? How many other countries have gun violence in schools? Will this not affect emotional response to aggression?
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Through out history leaders have committed atrocious acts of genocide, then you have your every day people who are just plain rotten. What made them that way?

Was it how they were raised? Circumstance can have a huge affect on the raising of a child and how they turn out to perceive the world. In this case, Do the sins of the father pass on to the son or Mother on to Daughter?

Maybe it is economic standing. A person who needs money is more likely to be desperate for it than for a person who has financial stability. In this I imagine some one mugging some one else.

Most importantly I wonder if the very definition of evil changes with society?
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Nicholas Bc Shumate, Evangelist - 4 years ago Edit
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
I think half of all conflict is misunderstanding. the other half is peoples over reaction or inappropriate hypersensitive, ego related personal issues, getting in the way of non-conflict. co-operation always wins, but sometimes one side won't. they have stopped caring or considering their enemies well being.
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The Psychology of Evil. Interesting prospect. "The Lucifer Effect" is really interesting. Turning the good bad, it only takes one crazy person with their finger on the trigger and nothing to lose to kill everyone. It seems logical that it can come down to the very situation of a good person being presented with a scenario where the person could either do what is "Right" or what is "Wrong", but it changes the question in my mind to what is "Right" and "Wrong"? How do we define these things in every day life?

In my mind we all need to be aware of our weaknesses in ourselves, and our strengths, and be aware of the situations that capitalize on our weaknesses and strengths. If we can do that, we can as a race of beings be better off. If we could learn to avoid the situations that put us in scenarios where we are forced to walk on our weak leg so to speak, and pursue our strengths in academia, social awareness, mental abilities, etc, we can change the course of our future, one situation at a time.
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Nicholas Bc Shumate, Evangelist - 4 years ago Edit
I think I'm going to have to disagree with your severity, while the pursuit of happiness can on one level or other be considered selfish, I think People as a whole suck, they are quick to scare and prone to knee jerk reactions. Individuals are where the magic happens. I think we as a race are short sighted in that we don't like to be aware of our flaws as a whole.
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
Well I agree with your characterization of people but what you cite is an entirely different aspect to what we are discussing here. We are discussing about the systems developed by people, their motivation, their objectives and why in reality those systems seldom function in tandem with the ideology that gave birth to them in the first place! contd...
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
"Individuals are where the magic happens!" - agreed, but such phenomenal personalities and leaders don't come by often! Our systems are not as worse as they turn out to be. Its we who screw the hell out of them. The objective of this discussion is probably to conceptualize a system that can overcome the shortcomings of the humans responsible for various parts of it.
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
I love the fact that every subject is fair game to you guys!.
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While personal and selfish motives explain evil at an individual level, there is another facet to evil - 'Mass Hysteria' & 'Mob Mentality'. History of mankind is smeared with blood from evil perpetrated by indoctrinated mobs justifying those acts of violence as a service to their Gods, scriptures, culture or ideology.

Witch-hunts, holy wars, riots, etc. are all examples of this type of evil by common people leading a normal life, provoked by a call from their leaders who are often guilty of misguiding these mobs.

The root cause of this type of evil can be traced back to unfettered faith in some leader / ideology and indoctrination. Can people in general resist indoctrination? Because once our belief system is breached we can be manipulated into doing anything and there will always be those clever charismatic crooks waiting for an opportunity to cash in on such sentiments. It all boils down to what we accept as truth and how we make sense of our world with all its idiosyncrasies.

In the end, history repeats itself but we can change that if we learn to resist dogmas, value criticism, respect rational argument and realize that no belief is worth the blood and lives of our fellow men.
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
The message for the present and future generations is simple as mentioned in my post but hard to follow. Here I go again - "We should learn to resist dogmas, value criticism, respect rational argument and realize that no belief is worth the blood and lives of our fellow men. Never take anything as absolute truth and be open to question anything and everything". In essence encourage philosophical thought process in everybody but our religions, culture, systems and education teach us otherwise.
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Nicholas Bc Shumate, Evangelist - 3 years ago Edit
@Praveen- Logic seems to be a variable term, I have had my beliefs shaken by the addition of empathetic perceptions. It seems that logic as a whole is a very slippery slope, as it seems to change from situation to situation, could we really be looking at sub-memes of logic that persist in various cultures or just a perceptual disconnect on a global scale?
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 3 years ago Edit
@Nicholas - Logic is a mental faculty that connects current observations, previous observations (learned facts / history), means and goals. When we learn the right history and reinstate our goals, our logic automatically does its job and guides us in the right direction. So in the end, its all about our goals and the historical truths (which affect our beliefs) that we internalize. If we believe in miracles and dogmas, the very foundations of our logic is squirmish to start with.
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Alistair Riddoch, Contributor - 3 years ago Edit
logic is not dished out equally amongst people. some get more than others. the way some people can naturally run faster than others. or longer and farther. logic "uses" the brain. and tires it. and some people just have less reserves and keep them for the thinking that is most important to their personal situation. imho.
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